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Chapter XLIX

Summary

Scarlett and Rhett return to Atlanta and take up temporary residence in the bridal suite at the National Hotel. The ladies of the town have a heated discussion against calling on the Butlers. The men disagree, saying they will call once to thank Rhett for saving their lives. Melanie defends Scarlett, reminding them of Scarlett’s sacrifice in saving her and little Beau during the siege of Atlanta and providing a home for them at Tara. She tells them that anyone who does not call on Scarlett need never call on her again either.

The older Atlanta people make good their threats and call on the Butlers only once. However, Scarlett has plenty of callers among the "new Atlantans," not that she cares a lot while she is attending to the building of her house. She has the walls covered in dark paper and plum curtains hung across the windows. The furniture is dark mahogany, overall creating a house of extravagant gloom. Rhett calls it a nightmare, saying it is exactly the type of house a privateer would build. They have numerous petty spats that never last long because Rhett simply states his opinion and walks away. He treats Mammy, however, with utmost deference, saying that she is the real head of the house. Mammy continues to behave coolly toward him, always addressing him as "Cap’n Butler."


Scarlett has her first party and invites everyone she knows, both friend and enemy. Rhett wars her that the "old guard" will not come. As it turns out, several of them actually plan to attend until they hear that she has invited Governor Bullock. The few who show up leave when the governor arrives. In spite of all the new people who stay, the party is ruined for Scarlett. The next morning, she goes to Melanie and accuses her of insulting her by leaving so early. Melanie reminds Scarlett that she is catering to the very people who have brought years of misery on the south. Nevertheless Melanie refuses to judge; she simply will not visit Scarlett when the Republicans, scalawags or governor are present.

For a time Scarlett struggles to feign in difference toward the attitudes of the old families, but eventually she genuinely stops caring. There are plenty of new families moving into Atlanta who are happy to attend and who, mistakenly, think of her as a means of entering the old southern society.

Notes

None needed for this chapter.

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